Prisoners for Peace

1st December is Prisoners for Peace Day. For over 60 years, War Resisters' International have, on this day, made known the names and stories of those imprisoned because of their actions for peace. Many are conscientious objectors, in gaol for refusing to join the military. Others have taken nonviolent actions to disrupt preparation for war.

This day is a chance for you to demonstrate your support for those individuals and their movements, by writing to those whose freedom has been taken away from them because of their work for peace.

WRI has a permanent Prisoners for Peace list, which we make a special effort to update for Prisoners for Peace Day on December 1st.

Article 318:

(1) Persons who give incentives or make suggestions or spread propaganda which will have the effect of discouraging people from performing military service shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of six months to two years.

Osman Murat Ülke declared his conscientious objection and burned his call-up papers on 1 September 1995 in Izmir. He was arrested more than a year later - on 7 October 1996 - on charges of Article 155, "alienating the people from the military".

"Patriotic service is a right and duty for every Turkish citizen", states article 72 of the Turkish constitution. Military service is thus a seemingly inevitable part of a Turkish man's life, and the thought that a man who is not physically unfit would not serve in the country's military can almost not be voiced in public. Turkey as a military-nation and the myth that "every Turk is born a soldier" has been carefully crafted since the early times of the new Turkish republic, and only recently does this myth begin to show cracks.

How the list works

First are prisoners' names (in bold), followed by their sentence, then their place of imprisonment, and, finally the reason for their detention.

Information about countries where prisoners have had their sentences suspended, or where sentences have been served or completed during the year, are in italics.

In January 2007, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg decided on the case of Turkish conscientious objector Osman Murat Ülke, who between 1997 and 1999 spent 2 1/2 years in military prison on numerous charges of „disobedience".


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Welcome to the special edition of The Broken Rifle for Prisoners for Peace Day - 1 December. This year we focus on the situation in Turkey. We made this decision before the present escalation of the Turkish-Kurdish conflict, which again highlights the power of the military in Turkish society and politics: it is the institution which stands above everything - the government, the constitution, international human rights standards.

1 December - Prisoners for Peace Day: Focus on Turkey

Prisoners for Peace Day 2007 will focus on the situation of conscientious objectors and antimilitarists in Turkey (see co-update No 31, August 2007).

1 December - Prisoners for Peace Day: Focus on Turkey

Prisoners for Peace Day 2007 will focus on the situation of conscientious objectors and antimilitarists in Turkey (see co-update No 31, August 2007). Watch this space for more updates.

More information will also be available on the WRI website.


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October was not a good month for Russian human rights activists. On 7 October, Anna Politkovskaya, a well know journalist who regularly exposed Russian human rights violations in Chechnya, was murdered in her flat in Moscow. Six days later, on 13 October, the Russian Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS) of Nizhnii Novgorod was ordered closed by a local court, because the recently adopted NGO law makes it illegal for an organisation to be headed by a person convicted of "extremist activities".

Book review

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Dedovshchina in the Post-Soviet Military: Hazing of Russian Army Conscripts in a Comparative Perspective

Françoise Dauce and Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski (ed.), ibidem, Stuttgart 2006

This book is not written from a pacifist perspective -- hardly so, and many authors write from a clearly pro-military perspective. But this is not a weakness, as we as readers can easily add this perspective. What the book offers is some insight into the phenomenon of dedovshchina -- the hazing of Russian conscripts to a degree unknown in Western societies.

The Russian military faces (at least) two human rights problems: dedovshchina, the hazing of new conscripts in the Russian army (see book review below), and human rights violations by Russian military in Chechnya or other conflict areas.

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